Ashy Drongos in Iran

Edit: These and other records of Ashy Drongo in Iran have been published here.

Reminded by the first Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus) for Israel, I finally took another look at the Drongos we recorded in south-eastern Iran in February 2014. Black Drongo (D. macrocercus) used to breed in Iran (Porter & Aspinall 2010) and I’ve heard vague reports of recent records of Black Drongo from this part of Iran. So we stamped the birds as vagrants of this species rather carelessly, although they looked more like Ashy Drongos to us… Trust your suspicions!

In Minab, south-eastern Iran, we noted the following observations of 4-5 ind., all of which I now identified as being Ashy Drongos from photos:

19.02.2014 1 ind. in Minab town and 3 ind. in the nearby date groves.
20.02.2014 1 ind. still present at the latter location.

The birds were hunting from treetops in gardens and plantations. On some of the photos, a slightly paler lower belly and vent, unglossed paler back to darker wing feathers, as well as the crimson eye are visible. Also, all birds lacked the white rictal spot typical for Black Drongo.

A little research on the net and correspondence with Iranian ornithologist friends revealed, that Ashy Drongo had been recorded in Iran for the first times in recent years. Unfortunately, informations about the exact number of records (especially claims about „firsts“) on the net are extremely confusing and there might be more records. Also, I couldn’t figure out exact dates as it seems that observations are published with different dates (Iran uses another calendar than Europe does). This is wat I got: 1 ind. was seen from 1.-30.12.2012 on Kish island, in the Persian Gulf (S. A. Jebeli; attention, the year of this record is still unclear) and 1 ind. on 25.12.2013 in south-eastern Iran (A. Sangchooli, S. Mokhtari). So, our records from Minab in February 2014 should be the third and fourth records of the species for the country.

Thanks to M. Ghasempouri, A. Hashemi, A. Hazad and A. Khaleghizadeh for their help in researching the data.

Porter R. & S. Aspinall (2010): Birds of the Middle East, Princeton Field Guides